Revisiting a trailblazer
The young director of that time Ramesh Sippy surely had a vision to change the face of Bollywood cinema and broke many a rule to deliver an iconic action adventure with a touch of humanism.
The young director of that time Ramesh Sippy surely had a vision to change the face of Bollywood cinema and broke many a rule to deliver an iconic action adventure with a touch of humanism. He made super heroes out of two petty robbers, who are happy being jail birds, to accomplish a social mission (of eliminating dreaded dacoit and bringing peace to the region) without having it as their pre-set goal.
They are kind of semi-mercenaries who take up any job for a bounty but get sucked into a messy affair of dealing with a menacing antagonist. It turns personal for Dharam towards the climax when he vows to eliminate Gabbar (chun chun ke marunga) after the death of his beloved friend.
Sholay also established that mainstream cinema need not be loaded with five to six songs – one or two song is enough if you have a strong content and even mandatory comedy track was done away with (barring one scene). It raised the bar on Hindi cinema by depicting violence realistically, besides opulent sets, breath-taking action sequences (horses chasing running trains) re-defined the visual-grammar of B-town multi-starrer.
Villain chopping the hands of a cop who arrested him and in retaliation the armless cop almost killing him with sharp spiked shoes took the revenge drama to the next level. Despite their larger-than-life mission, audience could connect to the lives of two lovable robbers (one is a flirt who chases a tangewali, while the other a silent lover of a widow) and made it one of the biggest blockbusters in the history of Indian cinema, and an all-round hit from North to South and East to West, besides rocking overseas.
Kudos to the famed writer-duo Salim-Javed for etching believable characters and their non-linear screenplay was ahead of its times as it introduces lead characters in a very uncharacteristic manner and their gripping screenplay inspired by copycat later, but none could match their path-breaking effort.
They also established friendship between two buddies in a profound manner - one ready to sacrifice for the other. Amitabh risking even his life with the famous coin (with heads on both sides) to protect his buddy was forever etched in the minds of the audience. Even the innocence of a gorgeous village belle (Hema) strikes a chord with the viewers and last but not the least, is characterisation of an upright cop (Sanjeev Kumar) who is fearless in discharging duty.
Even his seeking support of two persons (after losing both his arms) is metaphorical and stands out. Casting new comer Amjad Khan as dreaded dacoit was a master stroke by Ramesh Sippy (as he couldn’t wait for the dates of the then popular villain Danny) and was a game changer, since Gabbar Singh became one of the most-feared villains on the Indian screen. Sholay is bound to be celebrated for many more decades since it inspires young filmmakers to do wonders by ‘breaking set rules of filmmaking.